Saturday, September 06, 2008

Worker's Comp Update

We have a diagnosis.

Walter's inflammation condition is called *chondocondritis.* It's a chronic inflammation of the cartilage all over one's chest - where the ribs connect with the sternum, at the side of the ribs, and other areas almost up to the neck. It can be triggered by an accident, especially the kind Walter had.

The doctor says it may get better in a year or so. But probably not.

He said Walter could try a special cortisone shot treatment, which requires several hours in the hospital, but it probably won't help.

Considering the circumstances, Walter felt he more or less had to agree to try it. *Not Cooperating With Treatment* is a big no-no in a workers' comp claim.

They scheduled the treatment for Tuesday, 9/2, the day after Labor Day. That morning the doctor's office called to cancel. The poor doc had to get some sort of emergency surgery himself. They didn't say why. They did say they had no idea when the doc would be better and seeing his patients again.

Meanwhile, the employer's one and only Worker's Comp person took vacation this week. He didn't tell Walter though.

They do have a nurse on staff. She said they'd schedule up that shot with another doctor.

When we told our attorney what the diagnosis was, he said there was almost certainly no settlement claim.


He said it was a medical claim only - they'd pay to treat his condition as long as needed, to the end of Walter's life if necessary, but that's all. No damages for the permanent condition the injury triggered.

Of course, since the attorney's fee is 25% of any monetary settlement, he's no longer interested in representing us.

We think he's probably right about the claim. Worker's Comp laws are very limited. Another situation that most Americans don't know. Politicians - and their kith and kin - love to pose outrage at *ridiculous* huge Worker's Comp settlements, just like medical malpractice. Most, or maybe all, states have this formal Worker's Comp formula for settlements, and they're almost never more than several thousand dollars.

In Walter's case?

Pain is not a disabling condition.

Not here. Not anywhere, probably.

Even if the pain is such that it prevents him from doing his job. And believe me, none of us want a person driving a big rig with a chronic pain problem in their chest, right where that big seat belt goes. Let's say there's an accident, or something suddenly appears in the roadway, as a big rig is tooling down the road. The big rig driver reacts to avoid causing another accident. When you get a jolt of pain, say from a sudden movement to steer away or so forth, it slows reaction time considerably. That's not safe.

Me, I think this *no monetary claim* business is outrageous. Walter's permanently disabled now, and in such a way that he's lost his livelihood forever. But there's nothing we can do, except argue our case with the employer through the state mediator. He's a decent guy, and he said he finds these particular cases outrageous too.

He also says there's almost no chance of any settlement for Walter's claim.

Meanwhile, here comes Ike...


Pretty Lady said...

Oh, sh*t.

You don't need cortisone shots. You need MONEY. Not platitudes, outrage, or consoling words. MONEY. Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn. I wish I had a whole lot of it to send. Damn.

I don't think Walter is doomed to chronic pain forever, if he could just get away from chronic worries, overwork, mental and emotional strain, and THAT TAKES MONEY. How can you get some money? I'm sitting here envisioning identity theft on a massive scale as your best option. Take out a bunch of credit cards, write cash advance checks to a false identity, cash the checks, run the money through the microwave and cross the border.

Damn. I suppose that's not helpful. I'm sending lots and lots of prayers. If I think of anything more helpful I'll let you know.

Pretty Lady said...

Will they PAY for alternative treatments, other than cortisone, which only masks symptoms and doesn't address the problem? Will they PAY for chiropractic, massage, craniosacral, detox diets, homeopathy, osteopathy, and saunas? Will they PAY for enough time off that he can have a prayer of healing?

This sort of chronic inflammation stems, I think, from the same source as allergies, autoimmune disorders, systemic infections, and all the other chronic, mysterious ailments that both of you suffer from. It's the body's response to long-term insults and violations of the mind, body and soul. Healing requires a BUFFER. It requires SAFETY. Not stupid worker's comp programs jerking you around, not soulless bureaucracies putting you through the wringer until you just give up and go away.

Stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp.

Desert Cat said...

The kind of thing I was afraid of.

I'm hoping for better for you both. Healing would be best, wouldn't it?

Omnibus Driver said...

Find another attorney and get a second opinion. Just as you shouldn't always trust the first doctor you see, you should also look skeptically at a wimpy attorney like that.

Also look into Social Security disability. That's your more likely source of long term income.

SeaPhoenix said...

Sending you whatever I can to make things at least a bit more bearable. I thank you for your email earlier, too. I'm sure that item will be lovingly crafted. Looking forward to birthin' more blogbabies...take care and enjoy Uncle Ike's Wild Ride...

k said...

Pretty Lady, it took us a few minutes to recover from our giggle fits, visualizing ourselves as big-time identity thieves. Actually, we'd probably make very good white collar criminals if we so desired. And we'd only go for the extra big bucks, accumulatively at least. You don't want to skin too much from any one entity at a time. Smaller amounts are less likely to be noticed, especially from Big Pockets.

Our instant reaction to all else you said was, as Walter put it, --You know, she's 100% correct.-- We're very much in need of that particular serenity that allows one's mind, body, and spirit to gently let go of those bits of unintentional physical self-destruction. Because that's what all immune disorders really are. And those immune systems unhealthinesses are absolutely at the bottom of virtually everything else going on with us.

We'll get some funds in, one way or another. And for now, we're getting Walter's weekly checks. They're enough to keep up with the bills, if we're careful; and one thing we're really good at is being careful with our budget. So we don't need to fret about the immediate present. That's a start.

And I'm not convinced the future is as bleak as the attorney thinks. Bleak for HIM, perhaps, more than us. I'll post an update.

DC, yeah. You already know, having watched your father go through the wringer over the same issue. Without the decent use of one's hands, most avenues of work are curtailed or closed. Hearing about what happened to him was gut-wrenching. I've no doubt he gave his all to his employer. He clearly did not get that in return.

Healing would be so good...

Leslie, it's good to see you! I hope you've recovered from your accident. I lived and worked in Chicago for years, pre-disability, and I always figured it was pure luck that kept me away from getting whacked by those Monolithic Buses and Wolf Pack Taxis.

We completely agree with you on both counts. For now, we're firing this attorney - he already knows, and it's mutual, but the formal fax goes out today - and our Spare Emergency Backup Attorney is waiting in the wings, glad to *help* if/when we need him.

Social Security Disability is an excellent point. The employer is NOT the only avenue. SSD's in the long-term plan, as part of the big picture. I'll fill you in on that in my next post.

Thank you, SeaPhoenix. Getting home and crafting my little bits of sweetness is tugging at me just now. Patience, patience...

And it looks like Ike is passing us by. Hmmm! So I miss the excitement, but get a bit more time here to take care of certain Interesting Developments on a whole another front. heh!

Desert Cat said...

You already know, having watched your father go through the wringer over the same issue.

Well they called me "the good son". I did what I could to make the end of his life comfortable. That's all any of us can do really. We each only have so much time on this planet, and we do the best we can to find peace and security and comfort and joy for ourselves and our loved ones.

You inspire because of your gift for finding joy in the midst of some of the most trying circumstances. I mean, this is an *adventure*, isn't it? And meanwhile I'm over here troubled and anxious for you. I still have stuff to learn.